Sixty Medellin musicians are trying to return to their city after the recent murder of a rapper and subsequent death threats forced them to flee.
The members of the groups Son Bata and La Elite fled the district of Comuna 13 in panic on Friday after they were told by one of the gangs in the neighborhood that they would be killed. According to the group, a memorial service held for the assassinated rapper and cultural worker “El Duke” was considered a provocation and a threat by the gang that subsequently informed the musicians they were going to die.
The threat “is added to successive acts of aggression and intimidation by armed groups against inhabitants of the sector and people linked to cultural processes” in the west of Colombia’s second largest city, the group of musicians said in a press release published on this website.
Several locals have told Colombia Reports that members of the security forces — both the national police and the army patrolling the district — have failed to offer protection and, since the killing of two policemen in the district last month, have even turned hostile towards the civilian population.
Locals have said that police hostility includes cases of police working with several of the 25 or more gangs that are active in the area, intimidating and extorting local youth and have actively put their lives in danger by arbitrarily detaining youth residents and releasing them in areas where gangs would assassinate anyone considered as a trespasser.
A member of hip hop collective Son Bata and one of the musicians that had to flee Comuna 13 confirmed that Medellin authorities generally fail to provide security in the neighborhood, and not just because they don’t want to.
“I think there’s also the issue of not being able to. They are not succeeding even though there are a lot of police. The way the conflict [between gangs] has changed, almost makes the security forces obsolete because they haven’t evolved at the same speed that crime has evolved in the area,” the rapper told Colombia Reports minutes before entering a meeting with Mayor Anibal Gaviria.
The artist and the other musicians demand Gaviria’s administration take action to improve the security situation in the Comuna 13, something that the administration so far has failed to do. “Generally, there have been no clear security mechanisms or proposals coming from the administration to resolve the situation,” said the rapper.
To improve this, the musicians and cultural workers “want the city government, the security forces, the ombudsman, the judicial authorities, and the state as a whole, to take the necessary measures to protect life and guarantee human rights and the working condition for these social, community and cultural organizations.”
Under the protection of Medellin’s human rights unit, the musicians plan to return to their homes later Tuesday to personally talk to the gang that threatens them, hopefully in order to lift their death sentences and continue on with their lives as more or less normal.